Sunday, 3 February 2013


On March 24th I will be attempting to run just over 13 miles on forest trails for no reason other than bloody mindedness; I didn’t think I could do it so now I have to prove myself wrong.  Twisted, I know.  The upshot of such recklessness is that I have been training pretty hard in an attempt not to embarrass myself on the day.

In the last few days, several people have assumed that I am exercising regularly because I want to lose weight.  I comfortably fit into size 12 clothes – below the national average size of 14/16 – and am a healthy weight for my height, with a BMI in the normal range; why would I want to lose weight?  I am strong and supple with a wonderful wardrobe that I’d hate (and can’t afford) to shrink out of.  Sure, I wobble, and there are bits of me that aren’t as perky as they used to be, but that would still be the case if I were smaller, I’d just be colder and less well dressed.

If intelligent grown-ups are still buying in to the idea that women should be trying to be thinner then what hope is there for young girls?  How can we show them that healthy and strong is what matters?  The Olympics helped but there’s more to be done.  The average person in this country is overweight so I suppose it’s reasonable to assume that most people should be trying to lose some poundage, but when skinniness alone is the goal, it is often achieved (or not) at the expense of health.

One of the things that I love about roller derby is that there is a place on the team for anyone who is fit enough and dedicated enough to earn it.  The teeny blocks of solid muscle who don’t present a spare inch to hit; the long, lithe girls who pass you with one slippery step; the powerhouses of unshiftable mass who are speedy and nimble enough to always be in the way – a group of roller girls is like a campaign poster for all the different ways that strong and healthy can manifest itself. 

I’ve been fat and unhealthy.  I’ve been slim and unhealthy.  Being strong brings confidence and happiness.  Busting out a hand clap push up makes me ridiculously proud, as does knowing that I am in control of my body, it isn’t in control of me.  Come the 24th March I will run that half marathon with my super fit friend and I will not let her or myself down.  She’ll beat me, but that’s fine; my competition is with myself.  Physical strength and mental strength feed off each other and this spiral can serve to strengthen or weaken – take control of the direction yours is going in.  Be strong.


  1. Great post!

    I have just qualified as a personal trainer. I spent a lot of time speaking to other people on the course about not assuming that every woman that walks into your gym is there for weight loss. Ask questions, listen and don't make assumptions. I even heard one of the female trainers refer to the free weights area of the gym as "the men's bit." There is some way to go with changing attitudes in the fitness industry and I hope to contribute to that!

    Roller derby taught me to aspire to strength and wellness which is the total opposite of the attitude I had towards my body previously.

    Good luck with your half marathon.

    Smack Mamba
    Manchester Roller Derby

  2. AWESOME post! Thank you for sharing your story and promoting health and fitness. A healthy person comes in all shapes and sizes, and the mental benefits are amazing. Fitness has saved my body, mind, spirit and marriage even. Through my ambition to be healthy I hope to inspire my children and friends, so that they know that no matter their size, that they are beautiful inside and out with strong hearts and minds.

    No matter if we are skaters, runners, lifters,etc. as long as we are moving we are making progress.

    Good luck on your journey!

    Tara Bitch Down
    Retired RTRB

  3. I just found your blog from a link on a TES article. I've been enjoying reading your posts, I full-heartedly agree with the sentiment expressed here.

    I run for sanity, I'm one of those people who gets horribly depressed without going out for a run at least a few times a week.

    Good luck on Sunday.